SHAH ALAM: Based on the poll on this website it appears that most of Malaysian Defence readers wants the RMN to upgrade the two Oliver Hazard Perry -class frigates that it wanted to procure from the USN.
As the actual procurement remained on ice due to the impending general elections, let us look at whether or not it is a wise decision to opt for the Perrys instead of the other alternatives including the 3 Nakhoda Ragam light frigates which remained available despite reports to the contrary.
1) It will be the cheapest frigate we will ever get to buy (based on the US$73 million or RM231 million) which Pakistan paid for a single Perry in 2008.
2) RMN will have the bragging right as the navy with the biggest surface combatants in Asean. Only combat ships are considered combatants while LSD/LSTs are auxiliaries.
3) Since the two Perrys will be the biggest surface combatants in its fleet, the Navy will definitely have the right to give the COs the ranks of Captains.
1) With an average life of more than 30 years, the Perrys in the USN service are actually older than our very own Kasturi and Lekir which were built around the same time
2) Upgrading the Perrys with missiles (all of the USN examples had their missiles withdrawn some years ago) will probably cost around RM200 million (ESSM and Harpoons) and RM500 million (if its Standard 2, ESSM and Harpoon).
3) Despite spending around RM231 million just to buy them (without any upgrades), the ships will probably have to be retired within 10 years. Of course we could extend the life of this ships but it will be a costly affair.
4) Even if we were to sign for the ships tomorrow, it will take at least 3 years or 2015 before the ships could be delivered to the RMN considering the fact that it took 3 years for Pakistan to receive its Perry.
5) With the Taiwanese navy operating six similar ships, there will be some awkward moments if our navy were to operate this ships in South China Sea. No one will mistake USN Perrys for what they are as these ships operate as part of a carrier or amphibious battle groups but ours will have to sail all alone.
6) The Federation of American Scientists website cited that the annual of operating cost of a single Perry at US$16 million (RM50 million). With our lower wages and operational tempo, we probably do not need that much money to run the same ships but it must be taken into consideration
As seen from the above, I have listed 3 pros and 6 cons against procuring the Perrys. Perhaps you will find more positives than me but in my opinion, the cons out-weights any positives in procuring the Perrys. Perhaps its time for RMN to go back to the drawing board and get those officials to re-engage the Bruneians. Perhaps we could even get them to exchange the 3 Nakhoda Ragam for an oil exploration rights or two.
– Malaysian Defence